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Generosity: Strength-of-Weak-Ties Theory and Connectivism (CCK08)
by Nellie Deutsch

I often marvel at the speed and number of responses I get from strangers when I ask for information via social networks. Why is information sharing generosity more prevalent online than in face-to-face environments? Apparently, the answer lies in being physically remote from the person (Rogers, 2003). The reason members of social networks and online connections are more willing to share information and learning is due to the strength-of-weak-ties theory (Rogers, 2003). The theory postulates that close friends do not offer information as readily as distant friends or strangers would from social networks (Rogers, 2003).

The value of a network should perhaps be measured by the amount and effectiveness of the information it provided. I find social networks such as facebook, wikieducator, and nings excellent when I need information for my studies. According to a study conducted by Mark S. Granovetter (1983), successful job seekers found more success in chance encounters and from strangers than from friends. Close friends, relatives, and people in our proximity do not share information as readily as distant ones do (Granovetter, 1983).

I found this information very relevant in understanding why my fellow countrymen are ignoring my presence in an online course we are taking with George Siemens and Stephen Downes on Connectivism (CCK08). My Israeli colleagues have completely ignored my welcoming posts on CCK08 Moodle. In fact, I was counted out of the list by one participant. Do I not live in Israel? Is my online presence without a nationality? Does the theory of strength-of-weak-ties provide answers to both online and offline connections? Most of teachers at my school settings have not been as willing to collaborate on school projects as my distant friends throughout the world. I have had people from other countries mention similar occurrences. Can I assume, then, that the reason many of us are spending countless hours connecting online is based on the theory of strength-of-weak-ties? Similarly, can connectivism be explained by the strength-of-weak-ties theory?

Your comments would be greatly appreciated. Please send your comments to Etnirag.

Thank you.
Nellie Deutsch


Granovetter, M. (1983). The strength of weak ties: A network theory revisited. Sociological Theory, 1, 201-233. Retrieved September 13, 2008, from

Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations(Fifth Edition). New York: Free Press.

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